Theorizing Feminism: Parallel Trends in the Humanities and Social Sciences

By Anne C. Herrmann; Abigail J. Stewart | Go to book overview

PART THREE
Gender, Race, and Class

Articulating the relationships among gender, race, and class has been at the center of a great deal of feminist theorizing. The three sets of paired articles considered here approach these interrelationships from different perspectives. The first pair centers on issues of gender and race, though class surfaces importantly in the analyses; the second pair focuses on the reproduction of colonial relations that often arose in feminist theorizing about "Third World women"; the third pair offers analyses of the different meanings of gender that emerge for particular groups of women in Third World contexts. Taken together, the six articles encompass a critique of some forms of feminist theorizing that treat "women" as a homogeneous category. They demonstrate, in analyses of site-specific and historically situated contexts, how gender, race, and class are neither parallel nor intersecting, but mutually constitutive.

In two essays relatively free from particular disciplinary preoccupations, feminist legal scholar Patricia J. Williams (Chapter 13) and literary critic Amy Kaminsky (Chapter 14) address the construction of racial meanings through social-historical processes. Williams examines the painful legacy of slavery in her own family; Kaminsky traces the meanings of raza in three different periods of exchange among Spain, Spanish America, and the United States. Both authors rely on "stories" as their core texts, though Williams uses an evocative, personal voice to offer autobiographical accounts, and Kaminsky writes in a more detached, impersonal voice but draws on personal fictional and theoretical texts. The authors offer alternate accounts of the construction of "race" by pointing to the powerful influences of macrosocial forces and events as well as of family relationships and family lineage in creating social and personal understandings of race. Both contextualize racial meanings in time and space by showing how they differ in particular historical moments and different places. Williams examines the long

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